Kathmandu, February 25:

The Water and Energy Commission Secretariat (WECS), with the support of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Nepal, today launched Koshi River Basin Management Project (KRBMP) to ensure

optimum use of Koshi basin’s water and other resources to promote socio-economic development of the people and maintain ecological balance in the area.

Addressing the ceremony organised to launch the project here today, experts highlighted the need for an integrated water management strategy to make optimum use of the water resources.

“Koshi river has the second largest potential for hydropower generation in the country. Therefore, if we don’t act wisely, it may take Nepal backward,” Anil Manandhar, country representative of WWF Nepal, said. He also sought the need of a holistic approach to develop a sustainable Nepal through the proper management of water resources. “Water management is important for livelihood not only today. It should be managed well for the future as well.”

Acting secretary of WECS Ishwor Thapa also underscored the need for an effective coordination between government mechanism and its stakeholders for integrated water resource management.

The Koshi River basin within the Nepali territory extends from the Himalayan range, including southern slope of Mt Everest to the Nepal-India border, covering 17 districts. It consists of seven major rivers — Tamor, Arun, Sunkoshi, Tamakoshi, Indrawati, Likhu and Dudhkoshi — which drain out to the Saptakoshi.

Currently, the pilot field activities are being initiated in the Dudhkoshi sub-basin, one of the seven sub-basins of the Koshi river basin in Nepal. Integrated Resource Management Committees (IRMC) have been formed for the coordination of the project at the community level. The IRMCs are the catchment level management bodies under the river basin management governance structure recommended by the National Water Plan. The project is expected to help achieve sustainable environment, social equity and economic efficiency in the affected area.

According to the study conducted by WECS in 1999, about 4,830 million cubic metres of water is annually available in the Koshi basin, out of which only about 14 per cent (662 million cubic metre) is being utilised. Water resources in the Koshi basin has the possibility of generating 29,888 MW electricity and irrigating 474,800 hectares of land.